Salmonella is Commonly Found in Raw Chicken
Around 1.35 million people are sickened from salmonella each year. Nearly one fifth of those cases are from raw chicken. Nearly every 1 in 25 packages of chicken found in a local grocery store is contaminated with salmonella. Ironically, nothing has been done to stop producers from selling chicken infected with salmonella and there are no rules that require companies to sell salmonella-free chickens. Instead, facilities that sell poultry are required to test their chickens for salmonella monthly. and there are limits to how high the “percentages of salmonella” can be until the raw chicken is deemed unsafe to consume.
USDA deems any percentage below 25% salmonella-positive in raw chicken to be safe enough to sell to the consumer to be cooked and eaten. If the salmonella-positive percentage exceeds that limit, these facilities are given a warning to reduce the prevalence of salmonella, but no immediate actions are taken to enforce compliance.
Is it Safe to Sell Contaminated Raw Chicken?
The problem is that salmonella is dangerous and becoming more so. One nonprofit organization performed an investigation testing the levels of salmonella in ground chicken from local grocery stores like Purdue, Trader Joes, and Wholesome Pantry. They tested 75 samples of raw chicken and determined that all the salmonella found in the samples of raw chicken was resistant to at least one drug. Amazingly, 78% of the salmonella found was resistant to multiple drugs. This means many people are likely to develop salmonellosis that is resistant to treatment. This is especially dangerous to those who are elderly, young, or immunocompromised as salmonellosis can be very dangerous and even life threatening. It is especially dangerous to children under five, elders, consumers with weak immune systems, and people who have preexisting medical conditions that weaken their immune systems.
Is Summertime More Dangerous for Salmonella?
Salmonella is more common, and more contagious, during the summertime. The warm weather makes it easy for salmonella to grow and spread. It is strongly recommended to always refrigerate or freeze raw poultry, and not leave it out to thaw, for lengthy amounts of time while preparing meals, or to leave leftover food out at room temperature. In addition, the CDC provides a list on how to avoid salmonellosis. Consumers should always wash their hands after using the bathroom or doing anything unsanitary – such as handling raw poultry. Consumers should not eat or drink when working with raw meat, or while working or playing around high-risk animals such as chickens, farm animals, or animals in a petting zoo. In fact, consumers should never pet even household animals and then touch food or their face.
In the kitchen, it is vitally important to always clean surfaces after cooking, eating, or handling poultry. Cross contamination is all too common.
Handling Raw Chicken can Lead to Weeks of Illness
According to the CDC, chicken is a very common source of salmonella poisoning. The symptoms of salmonellosis are painful and can last for 10 days to two weeks, and in some cases even longer. Symptoms include: diarrhea, bloody stool, fever, stomach cramps, vomiting, and dehydration. Often, symptoms will begin to resolve after a week or ten days, but they can remain for longer periods of time and can even be life-threatening. If symptoms last longer than 6 days or begin to escalate, many medical experts recommend victims contact a doctor and have a stool culture performed.
Who is Taking Poultry and Salmonella Seriously?
The USDA is proposing a new policy that will change how the FDA inspects poultry for salmonella. While it is too early to know what final rules will be put n place, this could potentially save millions of people from becoming sick due to salmonella poisoning. One prominent food poisoning attorney, interviewed for this story, said: “There are millions of cases of salmonellosis each year because sellers and producers fail to rid their chickens of salmonella. With advances n technology and a new focus on one of the leading causes of salmonellosis in the U.S., many lives could be saved with new policies aimed at salmonella in raw chicken.”